U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Wins Nobel Peace Prize
Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency he leads won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.
The award committee called the 63-year-old Egyptian lawyer an "unafraid advocate" for nuclear nonproliferation and said his organization, which is part of the United Nations, is of "incalculable importance" at a time when the threat of nuclear arms in increasing.
Usually austere and methodical, ElBaradei told a news conference in Vienna early today that he jumped up and kissed his wife upon hearing news that he won the award. He said the award "will strengthen my resolve and that of my colleagues to continue to speak truth."
"The award sends a very strong message," he said. "'Keep doing what you are doing -- be impartial, act with integrity', and that is what we intend to do."
That has been not been easy at times. Although he received strong support from the United States when he was appointed to his job eight years ago, he came into sharp conflict with U.S. officials when he refused to confirm accusations before the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein had rebuilt his country's nuclear weapons program. ElBaradei later called the day the U.S. invaded Iraq "the saddest day of my life" because he was sure no weapons of mass destruction would be found.
He was isolated by U.S. officials. But the IAEA asked him to remain the organization's director general, a job to which he was reappointed last month despite opposition by the United States.
The award to ElBaradei and the IAEA marks the second time in five years that the Nobel committee chose to recognize a United Nations representative -- and the organization itself -- for working to promote world peace.
In 2001, Kofi Annan, the U.N.'s secretary-general, shared the peace prize with the organization he heads. For his part, Annan called this year's prize "a welcome reminder of the acute need to make progress on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament at a time when weapons of mass destruction continue to pose a grave danger to us all."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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